Since her days as a student at Gaborone Secondary School in 2009, Katlego Koboto has dedicated her life to helping children born with HIV. After high school she continued volunteering at the Botswana Baylor Children’s Clinical Centre of Excellence in Gaborone, where she works as a peer educator.
She has travelled around the world advocating for children born with HIV. She worked closely with the United Nations, Unicef, UNFPA, the United States Embassy and the ministry of health in Botswana.
“I have been invited by the UN to provide insight on how HIV affects the youth and what can be done to assist young people to deal with HIV,” says Koboto.
Through Unesco, Koboto was instrumental in rolling out Teen Clubs in various schools in the country to tackle the growing number of HIV- positive teenagers needing emotional and psychological support in addition to medical treatment.
“Teen Clubs operate as peer support groups and they are a platform for students to speak freely about sexual health and learn about HIV and treatment. Over the years they have proven to be a very useful support system for youth born with HIV,” says Koboto.
According to Koboto, research has shown that children born with HIV face difficulties during their adolescent years and are often unable to proceed to university.
“They need to be supported throughout their lives. After adolescence they must be readied for adulthood and assisted with mind-set change and income-generating ideas that can enable them to sustain themselves,” she says.
She adds that their mission at Teen Club is to provide a safe, welcoming and nurturing environment for HIV-positive adolescents so they can build positive relationships, improve their self esteem and reinforce positive habits that will ensure a healthy transition into adulthood. The initiative seems to be working, as Koboto explains that they have been able to encourage many children born with HIV to stick to their medication, gain confidence and maintain healthy lifestyles.
“Through Teen Club, I have managed to impact close to 2 000 adolescents and young people living with HIV by helping them to accept their status and become passionate successful adults. Many who are still at school are now in positions of leadership. We have seen fewer deaths as youth born with HIV are able to stick to their treatment; while many others have been able to progress well and are now leaders,” says Koboto.
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